How They Transformed Ian McKellen as Mr. Holmes

Makeup artist and Sherlock Holmes nerd David Elsey finally got his chance to transform the famous Baker Street sleuth in an entirely new way—as a 93-year-old struggling to solve the case that led to his retirement.

“It was a great opportunity to do something fresh with the character and wasn’t just a disguise, and really help Bill Condon and Ian McKellen tell their story,” recalled Elsey, who shared an Oscar with Rick Baker for The Wolfman.

“No matter how old he got, we didn’t want to lose that Sherlock Holmes silhouette,” added Elsey, who with the aid of his wife and partner, Lou Elsey, alternated between the 93-year-old and 62-year-old Holmes for flashbacks.

owever, even though Elsey had been on the project for a year, there was only a week of pre-production before the start of filming, which was quite a shock. With no time for a lifecast, he did preliminary designing in Photoshop and got a “Lord of the Rings” lifecast from Richard Taylor of Weta.

When Elsey finally met with McKellen, he aged him by concentrating on the eyes (crow’s feet and eyebags) and eventually found the right nose. But for the de-aging, he did reverse engineering, creating cheek appliances that smoothed out McKellen’s cheekbones and eyebags along with some clever re-sculpting of the nose and around those other areas.

“The other shock that we had, on certain days that he filmed, he was going to be old in the morning and then young in the afternoon. So that became a very hectic on-and-off ritual.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.


Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Makeup/Hair, Movies

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